A creative church planting initiative celebrated its first anniversary with four baptisms on Sunday – in a baptistery that many locals had helped to fill.
Kahaila is a church from a coffee shop in London’s Brick Lane and opened its doors to the public on 15 June 2012.
To mark the anniversary it had a celebration on Saturday evening and invited its regulars, many of whom are non-churched.
Towards the end of the night the hired baptistery pool needed filling in readiness for the baptisms the next day. ‘Suddenly you had this line of people with buckets trying to fill it, with party music on,’ said Baptist minister the Revd Paul Unsworth, who leads Kahaila.
‘Most of them are not Christian. It was a great opportunity to talk to them about baptism, and why we do it.’
Such encounters have become the norm for Paul and his team. He explained that Kahaila, a combination of two Hebrew words for life and community, is all about building relationships.
In order to create positive encounters with local people the café runs activities during the week, such as craft workshops, live music and poetry events, and a ‘bring and share’ supper club every Sunday, when the café invites regular customers to come and have a meal together. A church service takes place each Wednesday evening. They don’t try to push the gospel at ‘every opportunity’, explains Paul, but find lots of conversations develop naturally.
‘As you’re building relationships with people and hearing their story, they want to hear your story.’
Paul had the idea for Kahaila after seeing how busy Brick Lane was on a Sunday morning. Takings have been four times higher than anticipated and trustees agreed they would not need any Home Mission support after the end of 2012.
Future plans include setting up a market stall and opening a bakery to help support vulnerable women. The first year culminated in the baptisms.
‘It’s been an amazing year,’ said Paul. ‘We have a lot to be thankful for. It’s amazing how many people have blogged about it and said good things about the café.
‘The church is growing and developing. God is using our availability.’
Hear Paul talk about Kahaila: